Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

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Depending on which television stats you cherry pick, the National Football League is either dying or it's immortal. But there's little doubt the NFL has been locked in a public relations battle the past few years. From a wave of domestic violence and assaults, to concussion and painkiller class action lawsuits, and now the (mis)handling of player protests, the league -- regardless of burgeoning income -- has been working overtime to burnish its image.

So it's likely with open arms that the NFL welcomed a report from USA Today showing a significant decline in player arrests since 2014. So, are the numbers really that good? And, if so, why?

When NFL legend Junior Seau fatally shot himself in the chest in 2012, his death had all the markings of other brain injury-related suicides by ex-football players, most notably that of Dave Duerson earlier the same year. Duerson had written down a request that his brain be examined for signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a neurodegenerative disease found in people who have had multiple head injuries that can cause behavioral problems, mood problems, and problems with thinking, and, late in life, dementia. Though Seau didn't make the same request as Duerson, his family submitted his brain tissue to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, who determined his brain showed definitive signs of CTE.

Seau's family opted out of the massive concussion class action lawsuit against the NFL (and the massive settlement), choosing instead to file a separate wrongful death claim against the league. The family and the NFL settled that suit last week, for an undisclosed amount.

Are Schools Liable for High School Football Injuries?

The school year is in full swing, and so are high school sports. Athletes love to play, and students love to watch. Often, the more contact, the better! But what happens when a student-athlete is injured? Is the school liable, specifically in the case of high school football?

In the East Bay of Northern California, on the same Friday night, two football players from two different schools in two different games both ended up with major nerve trauma and were flown to same hospital. Though high school football injuries are uncommon, they certainly aren't rare. Can parents sue for their children's injuries? The answer is, it depends.

It's the week of resurrected legal claims against the NFL. Just days after the Ninth Circuit revived a lawsuit claiming the league was complicit in players' long-term health effects and addiction to painkillers, the Second Circuit rekindled a different lawsuit claiming the NFL and Associated Press failed to pay royalties to several photographers for the use of photos they took at and during games.

The photographers allege the NFL has made "widespread use" of their work, all without payment, claiming "the NFL has committed thousands of individual acts of copyright infringement."

"It's as if one spouse walks in the door and says to his or her spouse, 'I'm leaving you. I've found someone who loves me more. And oh, by the way, I'll still be living with you while we build our dream house together.'"

That was Raiders CEO Amy Trask, responding to news that the City of Oakland will be filing an antitrust lawsuit against Raiders ownership and the National Football League, claiming that the league and other team owners colluded to move the franchise to Las Vegas. The city claims it's more like "I've found someone whom I love more," after eleventh hour attempts to keep the team in Oakland were rebuffed. And, according to Oakland Coliseum authorities, the lawsuit could mean that love-seeking ex-spouse getting kicked out of the home much sooner than expected.

Originally filed in 2014, a lawsuit by and on behalf of former NFL players claiming the league was complicit in long-term damage and addiction to painkillers has gone through a few ups and downs. A federal judge dismissed the proposed class-action, finding that the players' collective bargaining agreement with the league required players to turn to arbitration to resolve the dispute. (Meanwhile another painkiller lawsuit was filed and cleared that hurdle.)

This week, however, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the prior dismissal of the original lawsuit, finding "the district court erred in holding that the players' claims were preempted."

An arbitrator overseeing Colin Kaepernick's grievance against the NFL alleging teams colluded to keep him off rosters following his protests during the national anthem two years ago has ruled that there is sufficient evidence to proceed. The NFL had requested the claims be dismissed, but arbitrator Stephen Burbank determined there were genuine issues of fact that needed to be resolved at a trial-like hearing later this year.

That means all 32 NFL teams are still parties in the grievance, and team owners, general managers, and even President Trump could be potential witnesses and targets in Kaepernick's claims.

We've all had the odd fender bender in our day. But most of us don't get sued for $1 million afterwards. Then again, most of us aren't Dallas Cowboy running backs.

Ezekiel Elliott is facing a lawsuit claiming Elliott's negligence left a man -- a Cowboys fan, no less -- with "serious life-altering injuries." Ronnie Hill claims he's still dealing with medical issues from the 2017 accident, and is seeking $1 million in damages.

Scientists are still wrapping their heads around chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease discovered, most notably, in ex-NFL players. Researchers still haven't found tests to definitively identify CTE in living people, but they are pinpointing signs and symptoms displayed by those with CTE before they die, from confusion, disorientation, dizziness, and headaches in early stages to dementia, depression, suicidality, social instability, and impulsive behavior in later stages.

And while science is still trying to sort out how CTE works, criminal attorneys are trying to figure out if the brain disease can work as a defense to criminal behavior. Here's a look.

An academic institution's ability to hold a student-athlete hostage for a year after they transfer to another academic institution protects "the character of intercollegiate athletics," according to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. A football player had challenged the NCAA's transfer rule, which bars transferring athletes from competing for their new schools for a year, claiming it violated federal anti-trust laws.

The court disagreed, ruling that the "year-in-residence requirement is an eligibility rule clearly meant to preserve the amateur character of college athletics and is therefore presumptively procompetitive." Here's what that means.